Maiden without Hands

In German folklore, one of the tales in the Grimm Brothers collection. In their version a poor miller is promised riches by an old man (the devil) if he will give the old man what is standing behind his mill. The miller accepts, assuming that only an apple tree is there. He returns home to find that it was his daughter who had been standing behind the mill at that moment. When the old man comes to claim his prize, the girl has bathed and has drawn a magical chalk circle around herself, which the devil cannot cross. The devil is thus frustrated and demands that the miller cut off the hands of his daughter, which the miller does reluctantly. The girl wanders off into the woods and meets a king who has silver hands made for her. They marry, and the king is then also deceived by the devil when a message announcing the birth of the king’s child is changed to read that the queen bore a monster and that the queen and her child are to be put to death. When the queen flees with her child, the king goes in search of his family. He is aided by an angel, and the family is reunited. The story of the Maiden without Hands is tale type 706.


Encyclopedia of World Mythology and Legend, Third Edition – Written by Anthony S. Mercatante & James R. Dow– Copyright © 2009 by Anthony S. Mercatante